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Netflix to Add Age Ratings to More Content on Its U.K. Service

Netflix is adding age ratings to more content on its U.K. service after partnering with the British Board of Film Classification. The goal of the new collaboration “is to work towards 100% coverage of BBFC age ratings across the platform,” the ratings board said.

Online services in the U.K. are not required to submit content to the board for evaluation, but Netflix already does so in many instances. About 60% of the SVOD platform’s content in the U.K. is BBFC-classified. “Lost in Space,” for example, is rated 12 (the minimum suitable age), “Stranger Things” 15, and “Sex Education” 18. Acquired films generally already have had a rating applied.

The aim now is to have ratings on all Netflix’s content in the U.K., in part under an arrangement whereby Netflix will tag the content itself in line with the BBFC’s guidelines, which were recently overhauled, notably for graphic sexual content. The BBFC will monitor the classifications to make sure they are being properly applied.

“Our work with the BBFC allows us to ensure our members always press ‘Play’ on content that is right for them and their families,” said Mike Hastings, director of editorial creative at Netflix.

The BBFC ratings appear on the “details” tab on a Netflix show and in an overlay once the title begins to play. A BBFC spokesman said there is the possibility of the ratings symbols assuming a more prominent position on Netflix content over time.

Citing parental concerns, the BBFC has issued new voluntary guidelines for streaming services. The guidelines, which also apply to online games, call for widespread and comprehensive use of the BBFC age rating symbols and the PEGI symbols for games.

The classification body conducted new research with the Video Standards Council Rating Board that found almost 80% of parents are concerned about children seeing inappropriate content on streaming and online games platforms.

“Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema, on DVD and on Blu-ray when they choose to watch material online,” said BBFC boss David Austin. “We want to work with the industry to ensure that families are able to make the right decisions for them when watching content online.”

The British government’s minister for digital affairs, Margot James, praised the Netflix-BBFC collaboration but said that “more needs to be done” across the media sector. “It is important that more of the industry takes this opportunity for voluntary action, and I encourage all video-on-demand and games platforms to adopt the new best-practice standards set out by the BBFC and Video Standards Council,” she said.

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